Tech: Links for 12th November, 2019

I have used some of these resources partially, and none of these completely. More as a bookmark to come back to for me (and maybe for you), these are five free resources to help you learn how to code.

  1. Grasshopper by Google.
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  2. The Odin Project, fully open source.
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  3. Lectures from Harvard University on Computer Science.
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  4. edX courses on coding.
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  5. … and finally, Khan Academy on coding.

Tech: Links for 5th November, 2019

  1. “Wearable technology, wearables, fashion technology, tech togs, or fashion electronics are smart electronic devices (electronic device with micro-controllers) that can be incorporated into clothing or worn on the body as implants or accessories.”
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    Wikipedia on wearables.
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  2. Wearbles are bigger than you thought.
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    “Wearables are now bigger than iPad and will soon be bigger than the Mac. And the glasses are supposedly coming next year, and the $250 AirPods Pro just shipped.”
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  3. You’ve heard of Google Glass, presumably. But uh, one ring to rule ’em all…?
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    “Amazon is experimenting with putting Alexa everywhere, and its latest experiment might be the wildest yet: a new smart ring called the Echo Loop that puts Alexa on your finger.”
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  4. “And it goes without saying that the technology still matters: chips need to get faster (a massive Apple advantage), batteries need to improve (also an Apple specialty), and everything needs to get smaller. This, though, is the exact path taken by every piece of hardware since the advent of the industry. They are hard problems, but they are known problems, which is why smart engineers solve them. ”
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    The ever excellent Ben Thompson, writing about wearables in 2016. He was bullish then, and I suspect will be even more bullish now.
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  5. All of which, I hope, will help contextualize Google’s latest acquisition.

Tech: Links for 29th October, 2019

  1. Aadisht writes on his blog about a podcast he listened to recently, about journaling. Worth reading, and maybe listen to the podcast too? I haven’t.
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  2. I used this service for a long time, and did daily journaling fairly regularly for a period of about three, maybe four years. But OhLife wasn’t financially viable, and since then, I just haven’t been able to get into the habit again. It was a very simple service – every night, at 8.30, they’d send you an email, asking you to log your entry, and over time, they’d show you what you’d written a week, month or year ago. Haven’t found anything as good, or as simple, since.
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  3. Tim Ferriss explains his morning routine when it comes to journaling, and explains its importance.
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  4. Zapier lists out ten journaling apps (I don’t have a clear favorite…)…
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  5. As does Lifehacker.

Tech: Links for 22nd October, 2019

Five articles on the evolution of mapping technologies:

  1. The evolution of GLONASS:
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    “GLONASS is a global satellite navigation system, providing real time position and velocity determination for military and civilian users. The satellites are located in middle circular orbit at 19,100 kilometres (11,900 mi) altitude with a 64.8 degree inclination and a period of 11 hours and 15 minutes. GLONASS’s orbit makes it especially suited for usage in high latitudes (north or south), where getting a GPS signal can be problematic. The constellation operates in three orbital planes, with eight evenly spaced satellites on each. A fully operational constellation with global coverage consists of 24 satellites, while 18 satellites are necessary for covering the territory of Russia. To get a position fix the receiver must be in the range of at least four satellites.”
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  2. … and the other term that people are rather more familiar with, GPS:
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    “The GPS project was started by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1973, with the first prototype spacecraft launched in 1978 and the full constellation of 24 satellites operational in 1993. Originally limited to use by the United States military, civilian use was allowed from the 1980s. Advances in technology and new demands on the existing system have now led to efforts to modernize the GPS and implement the next generation of GPS Block IIIA satellites and Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX).”
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  3. Heard of Waze?
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    “Waze (formerly FreeMap Israel) is a GPS navigation software app owned by Google. It works on smartphones and tablet computers that have GPS support. It provides turn-by-turn navigation information and user-submitted travel times and route details, while downloading location-dependent information over a mobile telephone network. Waze describes its app as a community-driven GPS navigation app, which is free to download and use.The Israeli company Waze Mobile developed the Waze software. Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine founded the company. Two Israeli venture capital firms, Magma and Vertex, and an early-stage American venture capital firm, Bluerun Ventures, provided funding. Google acquired Waze Mobile in June 2013.

    The app generates revenue from hyperlocal advertising to an estimated 130 million monthly users.”
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  4. And here’s a podcast that ties all of this together – entirely worth your time. It is by Walter Isaacson, called Trailblazers, and all of the episodes are worth listening to. But this one in particular was well worth it: Navigation.
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  5. And it was only a matter of time (also reading this helped me go down this particular rabbit hole): Augmented Reality and Google Maps.

Tech: Links for 15th October, 2019

  1. “Imagine an invisible button between your thumb and index fingers – you can press it by tapping your fingers together. Or a Virtual Dial that you turn by rubbing thumb against index finger. Imagine grabbing and pulling a Virtual Slider in thin air. These are the kinds of interactions we are developing and imagining.”
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    About Project Soli
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  2. “With today’s smartphones, it’s possible to capture decent photos of the stars, planets, aurorae, meteors, satellites and the International Space Station – if you know the right tricks.I’ve been using my iPhone for astrophotography since 2012, and have learned some techniques for taking night photos that show more than fuzzy, out-of-focus dots. All of the photos in this article were taken with my iPhone unless otherwise noted, and here’s how you can achieve similar results.”
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    Even before tonight’s event, it is possible to shoot photos of space using just your phone.
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  3. A useful website to look at to figure out how good the camera really is on a smartphone – although as always, broader research is a good idea.
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  4. “This is also how the smartphone app Shazam can recognize a song. It splits the music into chunks, then uses Fourier’s trick to figure out the ingredient notes that make up each chunk. It then searches a database to see if this “fingerprint” of notes matches that of a song they have on file. Speech recognition uses the same Fourier-fingerprinting idea to compare the notes in your speech to that of a known list of words.”
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    This article is by now gloriously outdated – things move fast in the tech world – but still is a useful article about Fourier transforms.
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  5. And finally, here’s context for today’s links! The Pixel 4 will be launched today, and while the phone is almost certain to be out of my budget (sob!), I remain excited about the phone itself. I have the Pixel 2 right now, and the camera on that phone has converted me from a “What’s the big deal about cameras on phones?” to a compulsive clicker of photographs.

Tech: Links for 8th October, 2019

  1. “What we are doing is creating selfies, documenting moments with family, and snapping photos of food and latte art. We aren’t even trying to build a scrapbook of those images. It is all a stream — less for remembrance than for real-time sharing. In other words, we have changed our relationship with photography and photographs. It used to be that, photos served as a portal to our past. Now, we are moving so fast as we try to keep up in the age of infinitesimal attention spans. A minute, might as well be a month ago.”
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    The excellent Om Malik on cameras, art, servers and obsolescence.
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  2. “Around the world, governments are setting timeframes by which all cars are to be electric. Norway is requiring all cars to be zero emission by 2025—and more than 50 percent of its cars today are electric. However, China is winning the race in terms of units, with more than 1 million EVs sold in 2018. The U.S was the second largest market, with 361,000; Norway had 73,000. China and the U.S. are at 4.44 percent and 2.09 percent market penetration, respectively, so there is lots of room for growth. China is stimulating growth with public policy: It aims to have 2 million in annual EV sales by 2020 and to outlaw the internal combustion engine sometime before 2040. France has also committed to a ban by 2040 and the UK by 2050. Governments are seeking to accelerate uptake through a potpourri of incentives, ranging from tax breaks to free parking to fees on conventional cars in low emission zones.”
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    A useful (to me, at any rate) overview of the EV market in the years (decades) to come.
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  3. “In a new book, Mr. Smith makes the case for a new relationship between the tech sector and government — closer cooperation and challenges for each side.“When your technology changes the world,” he writes, “you bear a responsibility to help address the world that you have helped create.” And governments, he writes, “need to move faster and start to catch up with the pace of technology.””
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    On Microsoft’s middle path. I come from a generation that simply could not have predicted this.
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  4. “A new priest named Mindar is holding forth at Kodaiji, a 400-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Like other clergy members, this priest can deliver sermons and move around to interface with worshippers. But Mindar comes with some … unusual traits. A body made of aluminum and silicone, for starters.Mindar is a robot.”
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    In a sense, unsurprising. But still: religion, rituals and… robots?
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  5. “Christine Figgener, a marine biology grad student aboard the boat, filmed with her phone as a colleague tried to yank some sort of tube from the turtle’s nose. At first, Figgener thought it might be a worm. Then she saw it was a piece of plastic. “Is that a freaking straw?” she exclaimed, outrage blooming in her voice. Indeed, it was. In time, the straw was plucked from the turtle’s nose and the sad, green fellow liberated. But Figgener—who’d been researching turtle behavior in pursuit of her Ph.D. and had seen marine life tormented by plastic junk countless times before—could not stop fuming as the boat returned to shore. It was, if you will, the last straw.”
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    On technology and… straws.

Tech: Links for 1st October, 2019

  1. On how Uber got lost.
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  2. Speaking of which, the excellent Ben Thompson: Neither, and New.
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  3. On a related note: the 30 minute principle.
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  4. I am really, really bad at ignoring email.
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  5. Via Alex Tabarrok (I think on Twitter), a Q&A on quantum computing.